05/31/05 12:52 AM ET
Angels sign Weaver in deadline deal
Pitching prospect was team's No. 1 pick in 2004
By Mike Scarr / MLB.com
With Monday's 9 p.m. PT deadline looming, Weaver, whom the Angels selected 12th overall in last year's First-Year Player Draft, agreed to terms on a Minor League deal. Details of the contract were not disclosed.
"It has taken a while, but finally, at the deadline, we got a deal done with Jered Weaver," general manager Bill Stoneman said.
Negotiations were lengthy and really did not begin in earnest until early this year. By Spring Training, it appeared the chance of the two sides finding a common ground and coming to terms was remote, as a reported $2 million gap remained on a Major League contract. Weaver and his agent Scott Boras dropped their asking price further. Stoneman, however, would not increase the team's offer of $5.25 million.
But come Monday, Weaver agreed to a Minor League and not a big-league contract. Had he not signed, the Angels would have lost their rights to the 6-foot-7 right-hander, and Weaver would have been eligible to re-enter this year's draft which takes place over two days on June 7-8.
"A lot of last-minute discussions made the deal possible," said Stoneman, who admitted that he feared the process was dead until Monday when negotiations heated up and propelled the two sides toward an agreement. "It was really only today that this was really going to come together."
Weaver, from nearby Simi Valley, Calif., went 37-9 with a 2.43 ERA and 431 strikeouts in three seasons at Long Beach State, including a 15-1 mark in his junior season when he posted a 1.62 ERA with 213 strikeouts and issued only 21 walks over 144 innings.
The ninth pitcher taken last year, many considered Weaver to be the closest to the Major Leagues, including Jeff Niemann, who signed a five-year, $5.2 million deal with Tampa Bay. Niemann was taken fourth overall in last year's draft.
"We're happy to have [Weaver]," Stoneman said. "He's local, he went to a local college. He's known locally, and he was the top college pitcher last year."
Weaver hauled in a number of honors last season as the ace of the Dirtbags. He won a total of eight national awards, including the Golden Spikes Award as college baseball's top player. He also earned the Dick Howser Award, the Roger Clemens Award and top honors from Baseball America.
The lone concern remains his inaction, as Weaver has not played competitive baseball since closing out his collegiate career last summer. He recently joined the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League, and was united with Stephen Drew, another holdout from last year's draft.
"We're not sure what kind of shape he is in," Stoneman said. "We don't want to rush things. We don't know what stage he is in as far as conditioning."
Stoneman will consult with Angels director of player development Tony Reagins, who will determine where Weaver begins his career. Stoneman speculated they might assign him to Class A Rancho Cucamonga -- not as a player, but to work him out and assess his levels of fitness and development.
The unknown factor is similar to that of Kendry Morales, Stoneman said. Morales defected from Cuba, but spent months in the Dominican Republic as he cleared a number of document hurdles to gain entrance into the United States. The difference, according to Stoneman, is that Morales was working out at a baseball facility every day.
With Weaver now officially in the fold, the Angels can project him as part of a strong young pitching nucleus that includes right-handers Ervin Santana, Steven Shell, Chris Bootcheck and Dustin Moseley, and left-hander Joe Saunders.
Santana, now in Triple-A, already made a splash in his brief stint with the Angels, when he tossed a complete game shutout against the White Sox. Bootcheck earned his first Major League save this past weekend against the Royals.
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.